Top Entrepreneur Movies: Valuable Lessons in Business


Business films offer valuable insights into entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation. From iconic classics to modern hits, these movies provide inspiration and lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals alike.

The All-Time Top-Rated Business Films

Begin your journey with these top-rated classics, as they represent the pinnacle of cinematic excellence. These films are revered by film students and discussed passionately by enthusiasts worldwide.

Citizen Kane

(1941, Directed by Orson Welles, Starring Orson Welles)

“Citizen Kane” is hailed as the epitome of cinematic greatness for a valid reason. It’s remarkable to consider that upon its initial release, the film struggled at the box office and was on the brink of being forgotten. The reason behind this surprising turn of events? Orson Welles draws inspiration from prominent figures in the realms of media, banking, and investment.

The Wolf of Wall Street

(2013, Directed by Martin Scorsese, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie)

Receiving five Academy Award nominations, “The Wolf of Wall Street” also enjoyed immense commercial success, becoming Martin Scorsese’s highest-grossing film by amassing a staggering $406 million solely from its theatrical run.

Crucial Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Embrace the diligence and dedication to your craft (while avoiding the pitfalls of Jordan Belfort’s methods).
  • Remain vigilant against the dangers of overconfidence amidst achievement.


(2011, Directed by Bennett Miller, Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill)

In 2011, Bennett Miller directed “Moneyball,” featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. The film received six Academy Award nominations and is adapted from Michael Lewis’ book of the same title. It chronicles the remarkable rise of the Oakland Athletics baseball team in 2002. Despite financial constraints and adversity, the team’s manager utilized statistical analysis to orchestrate an unprecedented 20-game winning streak, revolutionizing the management approach in baseball.

Crucial Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • A determined startup can challenge established competitors.
  • Prioritize data-driven decision-making over emotional biases.

Business Films Based On A True Story

Biographical films about business leaders offer invaluable insights into the lives of visionary entrepreneurs.

The Social Network

(2010, Directed by David Fincher, Starring Jesse Eisenberg)

David Fincher, known for his expertise in crafting thrilling narratives, infuses “The Social Network” with his signature sense of drama. While it may not be the most accurate biopic in the history of business films, the film captures the essential elements of the story and offers a compelling perspective on the ascent of the tech billionaire.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Embrace the reality that success often entails facing opposition and making sacrifices along the way, as highlighted by the film’s famous quote: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Be ready to stand by your decisions, even if it means personal repercussions.
  • Recognize the cut-throat nature of the startup landscape. Prioritize due diligence when selecting partners and collaborators, ensuring alignment of values and goals to mitigate potential conflicts.

The Founder

(2016, Director: John Lee Hancock)

“The Founder” offers valuable insights for entrepreneurs, showcasing the journey of Ray Kroc and the creation of the McDonald’s fast-food empire.

Key Lessons:

  • Persistence and Adaptability: Ray Kroc’s persistence in the face of rejection and his ability to adapt to changing circumstances illustrate the importance of perseverance in entrepreneurship.
  • Kroc’s innovative approach to solving problems, such as streamlining the fast-food process, underscores the significance of creative problem-solving in business.
  • Attention to Detail: The movie emphasizes the importance of paying attention to small details, such as maintaining quality and consistency, which are crucial for building a successful brand.
  • Understanding the Market: Entrepreneurs can learn from Kroc’s deep understanding of consumer preferences and market trends, which allowed him to tailor his business strategy effectively.
  • Importance of Branding: The film highlights the significance of branding and marketing in establishing a recognizable and successful business.

Documentaries about Business for Entrepreneurs

Documentaries not only provide profound insights into businesses and leaders but also offer entertainment value. The adage that “truth is stranger than fiction” holds in these captivating narratives.

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

(2023, Directed by Joe Berlinger)

This documentary unravels the astonishing tale of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, leaving viewers incredulous at how Madoff managed to evade detection for so long.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Schemes inevitably collapse, even if it takes an extended period.
  • Once ensnared in a scheme, extricating oneself becomes nearly impossible.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

(2005, Directed by Alex Gibney)

From Ponzi schemes to accounting fraud, the Enron scandal serves as a stark reminder of corporate malfeasance. Despite staggering losses, Enron’s executives largely escaped significant repercussions.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Delaying accounting issues only exacerbates problems.
  • Integrity should be prioritized above all else when hiring CEOs and CFOs.

Business Films With Cautionary Tales

Not all cinematic depictions of business and leadership portray virtuous characters or uplifting narratives. Some filmmakers leverage their craft to impart valuable lessons on what to steer clear of.

Wall Street

(1987, Directed by Oliver Stone, Starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen)

While Gordon Gekko’s infamous line, “greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” remains iconic, “Wall Street” isn’t exactly a celebration of the financial world. Surprisingly, the filmmakers have revealed that the film inspired some individuals to pursue careers as stockbrokers.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Avoid emulating the unethical practices of characters like Gordon Gekko.
  • Acknowledge the presence of individuals akin to Gordon Gekko within the business realm.

Margin Call

(2011, Directed by J. C. Chandor, Starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, and Jeremy Irons)

In contrast to “The Big Short,” “Margin Call” presents a sobering portrayal of a bank’s greed and deceitfulness during the onset of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Greed can corrupt and lead to catastrophic consequences.
  • Maintain awareness of the ethical implications of your actions and decisions.

Extra watching material

“The Playlist”

(2022, Directed by: Per-Olav Sørensen; Hallgrim Haug)

While not a film per se, “The Playlist” is a captivating Netflix mini-series that delves into the challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship, particularly in the technology and music industries, and focuses on the rise of Spotify.

Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs:

  • Persistence and Innovation – Daniel Ek’s journey as a self-taught coder highlights the importance of persistence and innovation in pursuing ambitious goals.
  • Problem-Solving Skills – Ek’s determination to solve the music industry’s piracy issue demonstrates the value of identifying and addressing pressing problems with creative solutions. Entrepreneurs can also learn from Ek’s resilience in overcoming obstacles and setbacks encountered during building his startup.
  • The challenges and failures depicted in “The Playlist” serve as valuable learning experiences, emphasizing the importance of resilience and adaptability in the entrepreneurial journey, particularly in the face of public relations.

Whether you’re already immersed in the world of startups or just beginning to explore the possibilities, now is the time to take action and turn your dreams into reality, Join the ranks of visionary entrepreneurs who dare to defy the status quo and create meaningful impact in the world. Your journey starts here – speak to our startup experts today.

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Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech & online companies.

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